Calculus, no problem. Physics...ehh maybe not

<p>So this semester I'm taking Calculus 2 and Physics 1. Last semester I completed Calc 1 and General Chemistry, both with very high A's. I thought that that was a good indication of my ability to tackle Physics (train of thought " if I'm good at these, then I should be ok at that"). So here I am at the end of the first couple of chapters in physics and I am completely scared. I don't get it, at all. I mean yeah, the basic concept of velocity and acceleration blah blah blah I get. But the real, complex (complex to me because it's new material) physics, I'm just not connecting the dots. So I'm thinking about finishing Calc 2 this semester and trying physics again in the fall. Anyone else feel this way, or am I the only loser in the bunch?</p>

<p>Physics 1 is easy once you learn it.</p>

<p>But it can be very difficult to learn.</p>

<p>Don't dispair. It will come to you someday after many hours of study. And then you'll think it's really easy.</p>

<p>
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So I'm thinking about finishing Calc 2 this semester and trying physics again in the fall.

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</p>

<p>I'd stick it out. Holding off on Physics this semester may push back your graduation date by a semester. And you're likely to pass once the light goes on and it all makes sense.</p>

<p>Is it the physics math you are not getting? The concepts of force, rotational motion, conservation of momentum/energy, etc.?</p>

<p>Here's one thought: Do you enjoy reading the physics and enjoy understanding how nature works on simple laws? If not then you should probably not be an engineer. If you are at odds with the math or something it is fine, just go get a tutor or some other help. Is your professor not explaining well? As long as you are passionate about physics I believe anyone can do well in it.</p>

<p>It was hard for me at the start too, but once something clicks and make sense, everything falls into place like dominoes and I enjoy that feeling.</p>

<p>sara, put the Physics book in your hands</p>

<p>take a seat</p>

<p>begin reading the chapters that you don't understand...slowly</p>

<p>if you still don't understand it, read it again...slowly</p>

<p>if you still don't understand it...read it again...slowly....word by word, line by line, senence by sentence...slowly</p>

<p>take your time</p>

<p>if you still don't understand it, go to your Physics teacher and ask questions about what you don't understand....</p>

<p>then go home, get the book and sit down</p>

<p>read the chapters that you dont understand....slowly</p>

<p>continue until you understand the material</p>

<p>I enjoy the basic concepts of physics and thus far in my college career(which isn't long), I've done well in math. But I have to say, that all of the derivations of this equation and that equation and everything thing that I learned, and forgot about pre-calc is coming back to bite me. This short amount of time in my phys class is WAY more math intensive than Calc 1 ever thought of being. The vectors! Holy cow! Sure we wen't over that in pre calc, but not with the same intensity that they're being used in phys.</p>

<p>What is your engineering major?</p>

<p>If it is NOT computer science, then delaying Physics would delay graduation.</p>

<p>If your major IS computer science, you can take the Physics sequence AFTER Calculus III.</p>

<p>Vectors ARE physics. They are something that is usually odd the first time somebody sees them but most people get used to them.</p>

<p>@GT, no it's no CS, it's ME.</p>

<p>@bone, yeah I kind of got that feeling after looking through the book and its all vector stuff. I just would have thought more emphasis would have been given to that in the math pre-reqs seeing that it's such a big deal down the road.</p>

<p>Well what about them seems to give you trouble? Just thing like dot and cross products?</p>

<p>I consider myself a master of Calculus(can take a number of AP Collegeboard practice tests and get perfect raw scores on them).</p>

<p>Upon entering AP Physics and learning its material, I first thought it was intimidating and hard, getting a 3/15 on my first quiz.</p>

<p>The subject requires a different thinking style...less mechanical and more dissecting. Once you "break" into it though, the subject becomes a piece of cake, and for me, I started to get consistent 15/15 on quizzes halfway through the year, piece of cake.</p>

<p>Warning:</p>

<p>What they usually teach in the first quarter/semester of Physics is called Classical Mechanics. The next quarter/semester is Electricity/Magnetism. And then, Waves/Optics/Modern Physics.</p>

<p>In general (people I've asked), Classical Mechanics is the easiest. Electricity/Magnetism is the hardest quarter/semester of Physics, while the last one is in the middle.</p>

<p>So basically what I'm trying to say, if you think this is hard, wait till you get to Electricity/Magnetism...</p>

<p>Just a warning and doesn't apply to everyone.</p>

<p>Try taking it at a community college with a different class setting or studying it at a different place (not necessarily another school just a different place on campus). Also what helped me was to try to apply the information to everyday life (i.e. when your walking and you happen to slip, what is that? what went to 0? etc...)</p>

<p>I disagree with the poster who said that if you dont enjoy physics, you shouldnt be an engineer. There are plenty of ME's and BME's who are very successful and utterly loathe physics.</p>

<p>Did you take Physics in high school?</p>

<p>@bone, honestly the vectors from a straight math perspective don't bother me. It's really two things; 1) in physics it's more of an applied problem, so there's more interpretation in the actual problem, and 2) we didn't spend that much time on vectors in previous math classes. So unlike other aspects of trig and calc that were beat into my head, vectors kind of just fell by the wayside. </p>

<p>@magneto, I like that idea, just get away to a different place for a different perspective. </p>

<p>@ treetopleaf I did not take physics in highschool. Back then I didn't really care about getting a degree. But now that I'm ten years older I see the value in one.</p>

<p>I'll get it though. It may just take the next 4 days of doing nothing but reading and practicing, but I'll get it.</p>

<p>
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But now that I'm ten years older I see the value in one.

[/quote]
</p>

<p>Wait...you're starting your degree in your late 20's? Congrats!</p>

<p>You're making a great choice to get a degree. But unfortunately non-traditional students like you and me have to work a tad harder than people that are 18 and 19. We usually have more motivation so it balances out in the long run.</p>

<p>The good news is that if you physics is hard, your statics and dynamics courses will seem a little easier because they are an advanced and specialized version of the mechanics in physics.</p>

<p>The problem with taking the classes at a community college is that they are easier and a student often enters the last two years of engineering classes ill-prepared. You'll get a better education to do all 4 years at a university. But you'll work harder for it.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>I don't know if this is the way it is for you, but for me I was taking Physics C, that is calculus based physics, without ever having taken calculus. Basically, it was self-taught and a lot of things I never understood (such as mass density, derivation of work in terms of force and relating it to conservation of energy) were because I never had the right mindset for calculus. That's primarily the reason I was much better at E&M than Mechanics. It was weird for me because when it finally clicked, it happened to be the same time when a lot of things finally clicked for me in calculus. It's very helpful to relate the mathematics and what it's trying to explain to you in physical terms, because ultimately that was the [original] purpose of calculus (to explain natural phenomena).</p>

<p>Most engineering students, by natural selection, appreciate an efficient system when they see it. That's why when I hear you resigning yourself to long weekends of unnecessary reading, I get e-dissapointed. There's a better way.</p>

<p>Fortunately for you, you're in mechanics. The principals that govern mechanics were either found from 1. Common sense (80%) 2. Derivations of common sense (20%). Don't waste your time on a textbook, as it will only be an intermediary toward you discovering the true meaning behind the common-sense-formulas you'll be using. Talk to your prof/smart peers instead, and save yourself some time. </p>

<p>You're in calculus. While this is just the foundation of modern thinking, academically, it means you're fairly experienced. Have some confidence in your ability to learn. The next time something seems overly confusing, realize that it's probably not your fault - The source isn't making it simple enough. Refer to a different source, don't spend more time with the same one!</p>

<p>Now, as you get into more abstract lower division stuff like linear algebra and E&M, that ratio will flip (20% common sense, 80% derivations), at which point...gl. I find the highly successfull students realize quickly they can't fully understand the complicated stuff, and use abstractions to make it easier (Likening circuits with water pipes, and voltage to water pressure).</p>

<p>Basically:</p>

<ol>
<li><p>If something seems confusing, go somewhere else for the info. Don't just try harder/longer.</p></li>
<li><p>Use abstractions to make your problems easier to understand/crack. If all else fails, throw out understanding these things all together and rely solely on the math. T('e&m'): 'e&m' -> 'Plumbing'</p></li>
<li><p>Find out the information that's actually important and skip the rest to save time. Refer to anyone you can for this, especially your professor.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>YouTube</a> - Lec 3 | 8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics, Fall 1999!</p>

<p>What don't you understand about vectors? Maybe we can help you.</p>

<p>Bigtrees
Yep I'm 29 and hittin' the books again. You're right, some of the kids in my classes are obviously smarter than me but I still do better than them (not in all cases) because of my work ethic. BTW, I'm not at a community college, it's just not THE flagship tech university in my state. For years it has been a 4 year ABET ET school, and over the last five years they've added 6 full engineering programs.</p>

<p>Celeritas
I actually watched that last night. Thanks.</p>

<p>BTW I really appreciate the feedback and encouragement! :)</p>

<p>Well, you could go to the library and pick up a non-calculus based i.e. a high school physics text book. You might be able to ease into the subject better by reading that first. I'm sure there are youtube lectures too, but you'd have to filter through those for the best ones. I think I'd keep trying to stick with your current physics class, but if you do drop it for next semester, then self study the high school physics to prepare for calc-based physics. Either way, hang in there!</p>